David Kirkpatrick

August 18, 2010

The long arm of the internet reaches 5B devices

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:28 pm

Yes, that header is correct — this month will see the five billionth device connected to the world via the internet Something to think about there. From the early days of ARPANET up to today’s World Wide Web full of commercialization, social media, viral video and everything else you can track down in the online world, human communication has gone through an honest revolution. A revolution I doubt very many of us would want to see rolled back.

From the first link:

Sometime this month, the 5 billionth device will plug into the Internet. And in 10 years, that number will grow by more than a factor of four, according to IMS Research, which tracks the installed base of equipment that can access the Internet.

On the surface, this second tidal wave of growth will be driven by cell phones and new classes of consumer electronics, according to an IMS statement. But an even bigger driver will be largely invisible: machine-to-machine communications in various kinds of smart grids for energy management, surveillance and public safety, traffic and parking control, and sensor networks.

Earlier this year, Cisco forecast equally steep growth rates in personal devices and overall Internet traffic. [See “Global IP traffic to increase fivefold by 2013, Cisco predicts“]

Today, there are over 1 billion computers that regularly connect to the Internet. That class of devices, including PCs and laptops and their associated networking gear, continues to grow.

October 26, 2009

Happy birthday web browser

Well, technically happy birthday almost two weeks ago on October 13. The browser turns 15. Yep, if the web browser — that digital tool so old it’s losing teeth and has hair growing out its ears — couldn’t even get a driver’s license if it were a person. Innovation is fast and furious and little things like this bring that point home every once in a while.

First came ARPANET back in the late 1960s, which led to the internet leading to the more user friendly subset of the internet known as the World Wide Web and those easy-to-use GUIs and the dawn of the age of the web browser. And now we’re about to be browsing sites written in HTML5.

From the very first link:

The Web browser turns 15 on Oct. 13, 2009 — a key milestone in the history of the Internet. That’s when the first commercial Web browser — eventually called Netscape Navigator – was released as beta code. While researchers including World Wide Web inventorTim Berners-Lee and a team at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications created Unix browsers between 1991 and 1994, Netscape Navigator made this small piece of desktop software a household name. By allowing average users to view text and images posted on Web sites, Netscape Navigator helped launch the Internet era along with multiple browser wars, government-led lawsuits and many software innovations

September 1, 2009

The internet turns forty

People carry on about how it’s well past the year 2000 and just exactly where is the future we all imagined — flying cars, jet packs, the works.

Well, think about what someone from 1985 would say about pretty much everyone carrying tiny devices that combine cordless phones, mini-televisions, the internet, etc. Put their jaw back in place and go to a hoary old desktop computer with a broadband connection. The computer might look somewhat similar, but even a user of the internet (probably a scientist or academic) from that year would be bowled over by the sheer volume of information, rich media and connectivity availble today.

From the link:

Goofy videos weren’t on the minds of Len Kleinrock and his team at UCLA when they began tests 40 years ago on what would become the Internet. Neither was social networking, for that matter, nor were most of the other easy-to-use applications that have drawn more than a billion people online.

Instead the researchers sought to create an open network for freely exchanging information, an openness that ultimately spurred the innovation that would later spawn the likes of YouTubeFacebookand the World Wide Web.

There’s still plenty of room for innovation today, yet the openness fostering it may be eroding. While the Internet is more widely available and faster than ever, artificial barriers threaten to constrict its growth.

Call it a mid-life crisis.

A variety of factors are to blame. Spam and hacking attacks force network operators to erect security firewalls. Authoritarian regimes block access to many sites and services within their borders. And commercial considerations spur policies that can thwart rivals, particularly on mobile devices like the iPhone.

“There is more freedom for the typical Internet user to play, to communicate, to shop — more opportunities than ever before,” saidJonathan Zittrain, a law professor and co-founder of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. “On the worrisome side, there are some longer-term trends that are making it much more possible (for information) to be controlled.”

Few were paying attention back on Sept. 2, 1969, when about 20 people gathered in Kleinrock’s lab at the University of California, Los Angeles, to watch as two bulky computers passed meaningless test data through a 15-foot gray cable.

March 3, 2009

Growing up online

Interesting social science research on getting through the adolescent years in the web.

The release:

Coming of Age on the Internet

<!–

Author Kyle Reed demonstrates his apparatus for investigating haptic communication

Author Kyle Reed demonstrates his apparatus for investigating haptic communication when two people try to complete a simple physical task together.

–>In the mid-90s, the Internet seemed like a dark place. Indeed, scientific studies from that time were documenting some real risks for teenagers, including fewer close friendships and more tenuous connections with family. It appeared that teens were sacrificing real relationships for superficial cyber-relationships with total strangers.

Is this still true? Social scientists are revisiting those early concerns, and some are coming to believe that the psychological benefits may now outweigh the detrimental effects. In a new report in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, psychologists Patti Valkenburg and Jochen Peter of the University of Amsterdam took a look at a decade of research on these questions, and they believe two important historical changes have altered the psychological landscape.

First, the sheer number of teenagers now using the Internet has transformed the technology into a true social networking tool. Even in the late 90s, only about one in ten adolescents were online, which meant that kids actually had to choose between online relationships and real relationships. There was very little overlap, so it was very difficult to maintain flesh-and-blood relations while exploring cyberspace. Today, Valkenburg and Peter say, the vast majority of teenagers in Western countries have access to the Internet, and most appear to use the technology to nurture their existing relationships rather than to forge new ones.

Second, the newer communication tools also encourage building on existing relationships rather than isolating. In the 90s, the few teens who did spend time on the Internet tended to hang out with strangers in public chat rooms and so-called MUDS, multi-user dungeons. The appearance of instant messaging and social networks like Facebook has changed all that, according to the psychologists. Today, more than eight in ten teenagers use IM to connect with the same friends they see at school and work.

Recent studies document the positive effects of these technological changes. But what exactly is going on in the minds of the teenagers to produce this greater sense of well-being? Valkenburg and Peter believe that the 21st century Internet encourages honest talking about very personal issues – feelings, worries, vulnerabilities – that are difficult for many self-conscious teens to talk about. When they communicate through the Internet, they have fewer sounds and sights and social cues to distract them, so they become less concerned with how others perceive them. This in turn reduces inhibition, leading to unusually intimate talk.

The psychologists have also shown that “hyperpersonal” Internet talk leads to higher quality friendships, and that these quality friendships buffer teenagers against stress and lead to greater happiness. However, solitary “surfing” of the Internet has no positive effects on connectedness or well-being, and hanging around public chat rooms – though much rarer – still appears psychologically risky.

 

 

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Wray Herbert discusses this study in his blog, “We’re Only Human…” (http://www.psychologicalscience.org/onlyhuman/)

Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, publishes concise reviews spanning all of scientific psychology and its applications.

June 23, 2008

Parsing the future of the World Wide Web

Filed under: Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:16 pm

Here’s cool bit from Technology Review with short responses from a number of luminaries when asked where the Web will be in five to ten years.

A sample of the responders:

Sir Tim Berners-Lee
Director of the World Wide Web Consortium and inventor of the Web; Cambridge, MA

Vint Cerf
Vice president and chief Internet evangelist at Google and co-designer of the TCP/IP protocols and the architecture of the Internet; McLean, VA

Richard Stallman
Main developer of the GNU/Linux system and founder of the Free Software Movement; Cambridge, MA